AND PICTURES Trinity students write poetry book Afternoon tea for two with novelists
SOMETIMES the area that occupies the space between the beginning and the end of a journey – whether literal or metaphorical – can prove the most fruitful in terms of inspiration and creativity.
For York-based poet and Leeds Trinity University creative writing professor Oz Hardwick that seems to have been the case for his latest collection of poetry The Ringmaster’s Apprentice.
“It’s very much about being between places, a theme I have been writing about over the past few years,” he says. “Maybe because I am middleaged now, there is that feeling of not being quite in one place or another. It’s also about not being quite in control of things. That is what the title poem is really about.”
An evocative account of a small circus arriving in town, the poem poignantly focuses on the precarious and lonely existence of the ringmaster’s apprentice as ‘she paces the perimeter of her silent circle/ to no applause, no cheers, no roars,/no brassy fanfare or cymbals’ clash…’ and then ‘takes her place,/facing her audience of one’. It was inspired, says Hardwick, by the kind of circuses that would turn up in the local park during his childhood.
“It was an exciting time when the circus came – the smells, the anticipation and so on. I certainly haven’t been to one for decades but it is still a memory that sticks in my mind.”
Born and brought up in Plymouth, Hardwick has lived in York for the past 25 years and has found the city to be a rich source of inspiration for his poetry. “Living in a medieval city I find constantly exciting – I am in dialogue with the past all the time.”
Even the most mundane activities, such as commuting from home to work can also reap its rewards. “I get a train from York to Leeds every day so it gives me time to think about things and there is also a rhythm going on,” says Hardwick, who always has a notebook with him.
“You glimpse things from a train window – there are little images I have tucked away and things come out of that.” One of the poems in the collection, A Train and a Fox, is an excellent example of just such a momentary encounter – ‘our eyes meet/ and, between a bland train and an unconcerned fox,/ hangs more poetry than I will ever write.’
Hardwick is also a musician and this comes through in his work, not only in some of the references but in the musicality of his poems.
There is a lovely comic poem, Elvis Lives Next Door, in which the now elderly, white-haired king of rock ‘n’ roll ‘sports a neat goatee/ wears loose trousers in the garden’ and is a regular at the local pub where ‘once, after a couple of Guinnesses,’/he got up for the karaoke,/swivelling his replacement hip/as he hollered Jailhouse Rock,/ amazed us all.’
There is also an achingly moving poem about Michael Jackson, entitled Bad and written after the singer’s death, that ponders a newspaper photograph of ‘a young boy,/maybe twelve, maybe younger,/ big eyes, black skinned,/before STUDENTS at Leeds Trinity University are celebrating their first book release.
MA Creative Writing students Gill Lambert, Maria Preston and Hannah Stone are publishing their first book called An AfterDinner’s Sleep. The collection of diverse poems have been described as ‘funny, wistful and moving’ by Leeds author and poet, Mark Connors. The book was released earlier this month through award-winning publishers Indigo Dreams. AS part of the Huddersfield Literature Festival, you could spend an afternoon with two novelists – a TV writer and a comedian.
David Nobbs has written books about Kenneth Williams and Les Dawson and was creator of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. While comedian Helen Lederer is an actor, columnist and novelist.
You can see them both at Literary Afternoon Tea on March 8 at Fixby Hall. For tickets visit www.lbt.org.
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